Documentary & Biography TV Shows

About Documentary & Biography

The purpose of a TV documentary, as is probably obvious from the genre's name, is to document something. Documentaries are non-fiction programs that examine a subject closely, and the intent of the program may be broadly educational, or it may attempt to make a cultural or political point. Although the earliest TV programming was focused on entertainment, documentaries quickly became a significant part of TV programming overall, and now some of the most popular TV networks concentrate almost exclusively on non-fiction programs.

Documentary TV programming comes in a number of forms. Stand-alone documentary films explore one subject in depth in a single film or in a short series of episodes, while documentary series often look at a different subject in each episode, with no direct connection between the subjects from episode to episode. News-magazine-style shows may group multiple segments within each episode; the segments typically focus on unrelated subjects. Other types of documentary series-crime and paranormal series are currently popular-explore a different specific subject in each episode, but all of the subjects conform to the overall theme of the series.

Biography is a sub-genre of documentary programming that tells the story of a particular individual. Historical figures, political leaders, entertainers, sports figures and other celebrities are, of course, the most popular subjects of TV biographies, and biographical documentaries are consistently popular with TV viewers. In recent years, the series "Biography" was one of the most successful productions on the A&E cable network-so much so that the network spun the series off into its own channel, The Biography Channel, which debuted in 1999.

Much of the programming that fits into the reality TV genre could also fit fairly comfortably into the documentary genre. Reality series that follow characters as they engage in specific occupations or live in unusual contexts educate viewers about those occupations and lifestyles at the same time that they entertain-although the main goal of these series is entertainment, and factual accuracy may suffer as a consequence.

About This Genre
The New Edition Story
The New Edition Story
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
The Grand Tour
The Grand Tour
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
Autopsy
Autopsy
The FBI Files
The FBI Files
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
Dateline
Dateline
Harley and the Davidsons
Harley and the Davidsons
Nature
Nature
American Experience
American Experience
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
The War: A Ken Burns Film
The War: A Ken Burns Film
Taboo
Taboo
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
American Masters
American Masters
The Planets
The Planets
Trapped
Trapped
Vice
America The Story of Us
Killing Fields
Snapped
20/20
Mayday
Dark Net
30 For 30
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Ancient Aliens
A Football Life
Intervention
River Monsters
The Most Extreme
Xploration Earth 2050
The First World War
Close Encounters
Ken Burns: The National Parks - America's Best Idea
Bering Sea Gold
Surviving Evil
The Code
1000 Ways to Die
I Survived
How It's Made
Nightline
Beyond Scared Straight
Gangsters: America's Most Evil
Dirty Jobs
Diesel Brothers
MARS
Cold Case Files
Dr. G: Medical Examiner
Destination Truth
Chasing Classic Cars
I Shouldn't Be Alive
Pablo Escobar el Patron del Mal
Lost Tapes
Disappeared
Planet Earth
Mankind: The Story of All of Us
The Bureau
The Alps From Above
The Staircase
Scorned: Love Kills
Alien Encounters
Cook's Country
The Skinny Dip
Tornado Chasers
First Person
Locked Up Abroad
Life Below Zero
Port Protection
Untold Stories of the E.R.
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
Survivorman
How the Universe Works
Gangland
Modern Marvels
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
See No Evil
My Crazy Ex
Good Eats
Storm Chasers
Ancient Aliens: Special Edition
Sensing Murder
Deadly Sins
Naked and Afraid: Uncensored
Building Alaska
Wild West Alaska
Paranormal State
Ice Road Truckers
Mighty Ships
Unwrapped
Haunted History
A Chef's Life
PBS Specials
Underworld, Inc.
A Season With
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Surviving Disaster